Diabetic Driving Studies—Part 1: Brake Response Time in Diabetic Drivers With Lower Extremity Neuropathy

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Abstract

Although the effect of lower extremity pathology and surgical intervention on automobile driving function has been a topic of contemporary interest, we are unaware of any analysis of the effect of lower extremity diabetic sensorimotor neuropathy on driving performance. The objective of the present case-control investigation was to assess the mean brake response time in diabetic drivers with lower extremity neuropathy compared with that of a control group and a brake response safety threshold. The driving performances of participants were evaluated using a computerized driving simulator with specific measurement of the mean brake response time and frequency of abnormally delayed brake responses. We analyzed a control group of 25 active drivers with neither diabetes nor lower extremity neuropathy and an experimental group of 25 active drivers with type 2 diabetes and lower extremity neuropathy. The experimental group demonstrated a 37.89% slower mean brake response time (0.757 ± 0.180 versus 0.549 ± 0.076 second; p < .001), with abnormally delayed responses occurring at a greater frequency (57.5% versus 3.5%; p < .001). Independent of a comparative statistical analysis, the observed mean brake response time in the experimental group was slower than the reported safety brake response threshold of 0.70 second. The results of the present investigation provide original data with respect to abnormally delayed brake responses in diabetic patients with lower extremity neuropathy and might raise the potential for impaired driving function in this population.

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